GASTON, SC (WIS) - Two house fires in one year have caused a lot of grief for one Lexington County family.
The smell of smoke still lingers in the place Ashley Stuart and her family once called home on Cinder Hill Court in Gaston. The Stuart's home burned down July 3, just 8 months after they escaped another house fire on Boy Scout Road.
"It's a lot more emotional than I expected it to be," Stuart said.
She was visiting the home for the first time since the fire. All that's left now is ashes and memories she and her family of 7 made in the home.
"Knowing that there were things that were in this house that we can never replace," Stuart said.
They lost their 2-year-old American Bulldog rescue who died of smoke inhalation.
"When we rescued her, she had been abused. You could still see the scar over the top of her muzzle where her mouth had been bound," Stuart said. "We were excited to give her a good home and give her the life that she deserved. And so just for us to go through all of that with her, for her to have gone through everything she had been through for it to end like that."
It was their temporary house they moved into after their home on Boy Scout Road caught fire.
"I just panicked, the only thing that crossed my mind when I saw that my house was on fire was getting our kids out of the house," Stuart said.
It's a nightmare that replays in her mind.
"If my sister hadn't stayed the night the night before, I don't know that I couldn't have got anyone out safely, and that's a scary thought to me."
In her tragedy, she hopes others will listen to her message about having an escape plan and talking about when disaster strikes.
"I never imagined it happening a second time, we realized that we have to be prepared for what can happen," Stuart said. "That maybe things would have happened more smoothly, it's something that we could have got under control."
Here's what you can do to fully prepare for a real fire.
- Make sure everyone knows the escape plan
- inspect all possible exits like windows and doors,
- install smoke alarms in every sleeping room
- Keep doors closed – it helps to slow the spread of a fire
- call 911 and get out immediately.
Here is how you can donate to the family: https://www.youcaring.com/chris-ashley-stuart-679067